Mining the Depths

I'll read almost anything and love what captures my imagination. Best of all is responding to books in the larger cultural sense, loving or loathsome. Literature should have a place in the wider world.

 

And I'm another GoodReads refugee. 

All the things I don't remember

The Well of Ascension - Brandon Sanderson

It must be at least a year, probably two, since I read the first Mistborn novel, which I enjoyed enough to buy the trilogy in a set when it was on sale for the price of two books. 

 

But it must have been too long. The first two chapters were completely bewildering and the plot and characters had completely escaped me. I realized all I had left from the first book were impressions of action and a vague though of 'the premise was cool, right?'

 

Now that I've finished Part I (there are still five more parts and an epilogue)...well, the characters are still barely more than props with names, especially since we're focused on the protagonists Vin and Elend. And there's the biggest issue.

 

Because Vin is fun when she's going around fighting people and thinking out strategies and taking risks with her magic powers; all the ways she twists (fighting) scenes to her own advantage in ways that apparently others never tried make her interesting. Note: the fact that not one single other person in the world other than our heroes has the slightest twinge of curiosity and experimentation is the only thing holding the plot together though, but that may just be because the author has no idea how humanity works (I read, like, have of Steelheart, I'm pretty sure on this point).

 

Which brings me to my main problem, which is Elend. Who is not nearly as smart as the novel wants me to think he is. He is a godawful leader and a lame politician. If I'd been this group of misfits, I would have insisted on making Lord Penrod head of the Assembly (Oh right the Assembly meeting: sure let's throw all the representatives, who we apparently just grabbed of the street after the revolution in a room and have them create order; even business meetings have procedures, Elend, you are terrible at this). Penrod, at least, will make people listen to him. Even though later in the novel he's evil (at a guess), at least he gets people to listen to him. Elend just works really hard on a speech, gives it, and then remonstrates helplessly while everyone else talks over him. Since he's king, my example is going to be...

 

Can you imagine what would happen if the British parliament did that to the queen? How utterly disrespectful. She would be a figure of scorn, a laughingstock. No one would take her seriously. Which they do now, because the queen is awesome. 

 

So yeah, Elend. 

 

He even makes Vin worse. Like I said, Vin is good in her action scenes, and when she's planning to fight. But it's not because she's actually a badass, or even an action girl. No, she's one of Whedon's waif-fu's. (Actually as I read the page to link it, I wonder if the author saw that definition and wrote specifically to that definition.) She's a broken bird and just so fragile, no matter how many big strong men she can beat up. Every time she's near Elend her narration switches from 'how can I take the world on and mix my magics to best beat everything ever' to 'woe is me, how can sad traumatized girl like me be good enough for Elend?' And when we're in Elend's head and he's not planning out all the ways to be the worst leader ever and still feel self-righteous about it, he's think 'lol, girls so crazy, and Vin is just so broken, but at least she's hot and will make out with me!'

 

Ugh, Elend, what with the nice-guy-ism's and turning Vin into your personal Magic Pixie Dream Girl even though we know she isn't when she's not being your girl friend because we've been in her head, and barely managing to brush your hair for state events because you're just such a dork no one could possibly expect you to take this seriously. And every one of his sections, I get a creepy feeling he's the author's insert and Sanderson is standing just over my shoulder as I read saying "isn't Elend awesome? he's great isn't he? look, he likes to read! love him!"

 

Shudder.

 

So how many words is that? A lot. It's a lot. And I've only read part one. 

 

More notes! 

 

Mostly the writing is, well, workmanlike, mostly invisible. Which is fine, I don't mind that style. This is something you read for the plot and magic rules anyway, like a D&D game. But sometimes there's terribleness. See:

 

Alendi's height struck me the first time I saw him. Here was a man who towered over others, a man who—despite his youth and his humble clothing—demanded respect

 

That's one of the little blurbs that comes between chapters for mysterious hints at worldbuilding history and possibly plot points. I mostly ignore them though, mostly because they sound like that. Here, for instance, Alendi demands respect because he's tall, apparently. Now, some tall people do use their height to their advantage. Or, like one of my schoolmates back in the day, they feel hugely self-conscious, and slouch their way through life apologetic for taking up so much vertical space. And some small people use personality to make up the difference. Instead the unnamed, unidentified writer assigns vales to people based purely on physical attributes. No wonder it didn't work out well. Also, he's (it's always a he), is apparently hammering all these out on metal at the climax of his story, because he just has a spare couple weeks or something. And that's why I don't read them.

 

Just as a beautiful woman demanded attention by virtue of her face and figure, Breeze drew it by near unconscious use of his powers.

Now, it would be one thing to say a woman with a beautiful face and figure is so accustomed to attention she demands it with her attitude (using a personality in place of physical attributes, which we found in the previous example to be impossible in this world), but instead we get a beautiful woman demands attention by existing. Her beauty is a power she doesn't use consciously, but still forces others attention to her. Which I know is what it says because that's what the Breeze character is doing. He constantly manipulates other people's emotions because he can't be bothered to stop himself, so they all just get used to it. Because he's one of those flamboyantly gay types and it's cute when they do it (not that I remember if he is gay or not, but it's definitely that character type and on the previous page the narration made a point of saying he doesn't date because he loves himself so much. Maybe if I had more faith in the author...) I mean, oh gawd, aren't those hot girls such a pain? They use their mad beauty powers to get you to stare, but then aren't interested in you. So. Rude.

 

So wow. Long. Can you imagine I'm actually still planning to finish this book? I hope this doesn't happen every single section.

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